If you’re considering a surprise party for your family member, friend, parents or co-worker, you’ve come to the right place. We have found some great advice from party planners as well as some super cute invitations, themes and decorations – plus a few FREE party game downloads. So let’s start planning!
First – Make sure your guest of honor will love the surprise!
Almost all children like surprises but not always with adults. Some people might get anxious or feel uncomfortable to be center of attention at a surprise party. You definitely want to make sure the surprise will be enjoyable so bounce the idea off of their close friends or family members before investing time into the plan. If they feel they will love the surprise – definitely go for it! Surprise parties can bring such fun memories – not only for the honoree but for the guests too!
Start your plan
Once you’ve decided on the surprise, it’s a good idea to start thinking about the party at least six weeks in advance. You’ll definitely want to bring a few trusted friends into the party planning process. When to hold the party is the first thing to consider. Some planners recommend you hold the surprise party the weekend before the big event. That way the guest or guests of honor won’t suspect anything. If you do plan it before, make sure the honoree doesn’t have other plans. Make a date for a dinner or a movie the night of the surprise so they have the date locked in. Also be sure to make plans to get together for dinner to celebrate on their actual birthday or anniversary. That way they won’t feel forgotten – and less likely to suspect a surprise party.
You can also plan it on the special day with a clever diversion. For example, you might invite the birthday girl out for a drink with a few friends – only to find the restaurant has all her friends and family waiting. Another example is inviting your parents over to a small dinner party to celebrate their milestone anniversary. When they arrive, they’ll find all their family and friends ready to celebrate.
Choosing where to have the party
If you’re having the party at the home where the guest of honor lives, you’ll need to be sure to keep decorations hidden. You’ll also need a way to get him out of the house for a few hours. Enlist a buddy to pick him up and take him out to dinner – or invite him to take a look at his new man cave. It’s important that the guest of honor is picked up so the friend can deliver him to the party at the right time. Think about parking too – where will you ask the guests to park so he doesn’t suspect anything.
If you’re holding a surprise for a couple – say your parents anniversary – it would be much easier to hold at someone else’s home. It also makes it easier for people to get in before hand to get the party ready and for guests to secretly arrive.
Think outside the house!
You could also get creative with the venue! Other places to hold surprise parties include restaurants, bars, clubs, casinos, bowling alleys, amusement parks, go-kart tracks, skating rinks, pools, party barns, the beach, an outdoor garden or paintball arenas. You’ll have to come up with a good excuse to stop in unexpectedly. Once you have the honoree in your car, you could have your spouse text you that they left their glasses or wallet in your car and could you drop it by a certain location. When you walk in to deliver the “lost item”, the guest of honor will be surprised to see her friends and family ready to celebrate.
Make Sure Everyone Knows It’s a Surprise Party
Of course you should make it clear on the invitation that the party is a surprise party. Mailing invitations or calling people personally is generally safer than posting the information on facebook or other social media. You never know where the guest of honor will see it on line. If you suspect one of the invitees may spill the beans, you could wait to the last minute to let them know. Kids, particularly, have a hard time keeping a secret. Make sure they’re not in hearing range when discussing the party.
The day of the event
The hosts should arrive at least two hours early to get everything set up – food, drinks, decorations. Ask your guests to arrive at least 30 minutes before the honoree is due to arrive. If having at your home, be sure to give directions on where to park out of sight. You could also let them know that if they are late, wait at least 15 minutes AFTER the time of the surprise to avoid any chance the birthday girl or guy might see them.
Catch the surprise!
Make sure you have a friend in charge of photo or video during the big surprise. Or you could have everyone snap a photo at the same time for a fun montage. And too, you don’t have to have a group all yell “Surprise” in unison. You could have the guest walk in and see a few friends (don’t forget her favorite furry friend) – then slowly have more and more guests come into the room. She’ll eventually figure out the ongoing surprise of guests is for her!
Invitation and Party Ideas!
So with the guest of honor and the event in mind, you’ll want to think about the invitations, food and decorations. Whether it’s a birthday, a special anniversary or a co-worker’s retirement, we’ve found a variety of clever invitations, party ideas, and themes to help you pull off the surprise party in style.
Photos of the Guest of Honor
For birthday surprise party invitations, it’s fun to add a photo of the guest of honor. Above is a photo of a toddler – who is now turning 30! At the party, you could have a banner tracking his photos through the years.
Of course, Martha has a complete diy on how to add photos to your party – here is a fun centerpiece idea featuring photos of the guest of honor at various ages.
Here’s a photo surprise party invite with the guest of honor framed against a chalkboard background and chalk-like fonts.
For the girl who loves a great party, here’s a black and rose gold party invitation with glitter confetti! Add a cute photo – your details – and you’re good to go!
If your party has more of a country western flair, here’s a dark wooden background with twinkling string lights for a surprise party invitation.
Fun themes for surprise parties!
If the guest of honor is into sports or has hobbies or interests, you could turn that into a theme. It also makes the planning a little easier with decorations and food ideas. Here are a few themes that would work perfectly for a surprise party:
Hollywood Glitter and Glam!
If the birthday girl is into glitz and glam, a Hollywood theme might be fun – complete with gold attire, glitter invitations, seriously gold cupcakes and lots of champagne.
Stilettos and champagne – you just can’t go wrong. Glitzy invitation with glitter and stars really dresses up this 50th surprise party invitation.
You can send your invite out mobile too – easy to add your own party details for your glamorous surprise party.
This fancy design would be amazing for an elegant dinner or brunch – ribbons of gold sparkle decorate this champagne colored invitation.
Flowers and glitter make a great combination for a beautiful surprise party invitation.
Roll the dice – Casino party theme to break the ice!
If your buddy loves Vegas, you can’t go wrong. A casino night helps brings people together too! You can have tables for blackjack, poker, chase the ace or even spades. You can pick up a roulette wheel (they’re not as expensive as you would think), poker chips and some Vegas theme party decorations.
Decorating in Vegas style is easy! Just add the clubs, diamond, hearts and spades to your table – banners and cupcakes! You can also pick up a “casino vegas” party pack – complete with banners and table decorations.
Sports theme parties!
If you’re throwing a surprise for your football loving husband – it would be fun to surprise him with a theme featuring his favorite team! Whether it’s the Bears, the Seahawks or the World Champion Kansas City Chiefs – a football theme would be fun to pull off. Below is a surprise party football party invitation available from Puzzle Prints on etsy.
What’s not to love with these creme filled football donuts? Head on over to thefirstyearblog for complete step by step recipe and decorating tips.
These birthday photo beer bottles would also be a surprise! Most likely your guest of honor would not expect to see his photo front and center on the beer bottles. Easy to upload your photo and customize the age too!
Taco bout a surprise party!
Who doesn’t love tacos? When you taco bout a surprise party, a fiesta theme would be perfect. With all of the bright colors and easy to make party food, this is sure to be a hit.
To decorate for your surprise fiesta, you can find plenty of colorful decor such as these big gold balloon numbers, an inflatable cactus, a giant fiesta sombrero balloon, even a margarita balloon :). Add plenty of colorful banners and flowers and let the sorpresa (surprise!) begin.
Check out the super fun cactus balloon from mintevendeisgn.com Although this party was for cinco de mayo, these decorations would be perfect for a surprise fiesta too!
Decade theme birthdays
For the big ones … 40, 50 or 60, you can always go back to the time period when they were born. Decade theme parties are always winners. It’s fun to have guests dress in theme clothing, play music from the decade and decorate with the “groovy” or “far out” party decor of the decade.
Surprise for the 60 year old!
This floral and striped 60th theme birthday invitation is lovely! While this has a modern flair, it would be fun to go back to the 60’s for some inpsiration for the party. A peace, love and hippy theme may be just perfect. Guests can dress up in their favorite tie dyed shirts with bell bottom pants, Ladies definitely need “flowers in their hair“. Make sure the playlist includes music courtesy of Jefferson Airplane, Joan Baez, Crosby Stills & Nash and Jimmy Hendrix Add some temporary tattoos, love beads, silver hoop earrings and peace out!
This is a cute idea too for the 60th birthday guest. Find a ton of photos and make them into a collage for the party. You can also hire someone to do this too (this is from Lulubell photo on etsy)
Far out ideas for the 50 year old surprise party!
This “DON’T BLOW IT” invitation is so cute. Gold and black sparkly candles with gold confetti decorating the edge. For someone turning 50, a groovy 70’s theme would be fun to plan.
Pucca bead shell necklaces, disco balls and 70 music featuring Elton John, Rod Stewart, Boston, Queen, Billy Ocean, and Gloria Gaynor (I can survive!) can dominate the night. Family and friends of all ages will get a kick out of the nostalgic 70s.
Lordy Lordy, looks who’s Forty!
So your best friend is turning 40! Time for a surprise party to celebrate the big day. With the generation that grew up on the internet, be sure to keep the invitation off social media – they’re sure to stumble upon it somewhere.
The decade of the 80’s has plenty of fun to offer for the party. The 80s featured big hair, big phones, pastel suits, Rubik’s cubes, Air Jordans, shoulder pads and Pac Man. You can certainly pull a few ideas from the 80’s for a fun 40th birthday theme.
Love these 80’s theme cupcakes from Harriet’s House of Cakes – she’ll ship them right to you for the party!
Here’s a cute idea for the party decor – and gets the guests involved. Have everyone write a note in the heart and have this displayed front and center.
Of course, for the “big one” birthday, you’ll need a special party cake and special candles too 🙂 And while they’re blowing out their candles, they can:
Another heart warming idea is to have guests donate what they can in lieu of presents to a charity on behalf of the birthday boy or girl. “Make A Wish” is one charity dedicated to children diagnosed with a terminal illness. A wish can be that spark that helps these children believe that anything is possible and gives them the strength to fight harder against their illnesses. They have some pretty amazing stories on how they have made such a difference in kid’s lives.
SURPRISE ANNIVERSARY PARTIES!
Surprising your parents on a special anniversary is such a sweet idea. These anniversary invitations can help get the party started 🙂
A really cute idea for a special anniversary is to get photos of the couple from the beginning, wedding, kids, vacations, grandkids, etc. If you’re techno savvy – or know someone who is – you can put all the photos in chronological order with Kenny Rogers “Through the years” playing in the background. Just check out how perfect it is:
Through the years
You’ve never let me down
You turned my life around
The sweetest days I’ve found
I’ve found with you
Through the years
I’ve never been afraid
I’ve loved the life we’ve made
And I’m so glad I’ve stayed
Right here with you
Through the years
That’s sure to get the anniversary couple (and maybe some of the guests) to shed a few happy tears! No matter which anniversary you are celebrating, you can get an anniversary party kit to help pull the decor together.
RETIREMENT SURPRISE PARTIES!
A party for a retiring co-worker is a special thank you for all she’s done through the years. You can tailor the event to their occupation too such as a school teacher. Here’s a cute “School’s Out FOREVER!” Surprise party invitation for the district staff.
You can set this up for a Friday afternoon once the kids are on their way home. Have a fellow teacher ask the guest of honor for some advice while the other staff members decorate the teacher’s lounge, gym or cafeteria. Once the party is ready, the principal or other coworker can call and lure her into the party!
Here is a perfect gift for the retiring teacher – “Because I Had a Teacher: the book by Kobi Yamada is a heartwarming book for great teachers everywhere. She or he will love the sentiments – even more special if everyone signs the book.
Free Party Games download
To celebrate the guest of honor, a fun idea is to play a trivia game with your party guests. We’ve created these free downloadable pdfs featuring “How Well do you know the Birthday Girl or Birthday Boy?” If you’re celebrating an anniversary, we also have a free “How well do you know the couple” trivia game.
TIME TO RELAX AND ENJOY!
While the surprise party planning may be stressful, be sure to let go and relax at the party. After all the planning and secrecy, it’s time to enjoy the special day and memories you’ve created for your guest of honor. Even if something goes awry – no worries. That’s just one more fun story to tell later down the road.
Good luck! If you have experience with surprise parties, be sure to comment below with tips or advice. Need a special design? Just let us know and we’ll be glad to help 🙂